RECORD: Darwin, C. R. n.d. [Note on Paley's Natural theology]. CUL-DAR205.1.34. Edited by John van Wyhe (Darwin Online,

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed by Christine Chua and edited by John van Wyhe 8.2021. RN1

NOTE: The brown crayon number '10' indicates that this document was filed by Darwin in his portfolio for the subject of Rudimentary & abortive organs.

Reproduced with permission of the Syndics of Cambridge University Library and William Huxley Darwin.


[page numbers all crossed]

Picking out all the contrivances, & never viewing each as one step in a series, is enough to astound anyone.

Paley nat Theolog


abortive organs why so long remain? & why not obliterated altogether, which does not seem commonest case? perhaps they are & series of degree of abortion marks stages. Often used, as fibula to strengthen tibia — Is it that [over]


disuse or selection applies only to full-grown animal (or larva when complete) & therefore that the hereditary tendency constantly reproduces them in young state none abortive organs. just the same reason that the in fœtal state forms resemble each other more closely than in perfect.

Cause of abortion quite secondarily from disuse X because no use or habit. in Plants,— selection & nourishment drawn to other parts.

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Citation: John van Wyhe, ed. 2002-. The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online. (

File last updated 13 June, 2022